A Brooklyn Starbucks’ long movie theater past

Starbucks sells coffee out of 220 franchises throughout the five boroughs, and some of these locations have significant history behind them.

Baristas are serving up cafe lattes from the West 23rd Street brownstone where author Edith Wharton grew up.

There’s also a Starbucks inside the former barber shop on West 55th Street where Murder Inc. mobster Albert Anastasia was riddled with bullets while waiting for a haircut.

And on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint is this Starbucks, caffeinating New Yorkers from a former movie palace built in 1914 called the American Theatre (right, in the 1930s—and hey,trolley tracks!).

A century ago, Greenpoint residents hit this 565-seat neighborhood picture show with the proud eagle on top to see stars like Charlie Chaplin and Lillian Gish.

And if the American wasn’t playing anything worth seeing, they had other local theater options, like the Meserole Theater, which opened in 1922.

The American sold tickets throughout the golden age of Hollywood and in 1968 was renamed the Chopin (left, in 1980), possibly a nod to the increasingly Polish immigrant neighborhood.

After the Chopin closed its doors in 1987, the theater remained empty, then housed a succession of fast-food franchises, including a Burger King, into the 21st century.

Starbucks has occupied this space (and displayed their brand on the marquee once reserved for movie titles, actors, and actresses) for several years, amid a dwindling number of businesses bearing Polish names.

The building recently got a paint job, but the eagle on top of the facade still remains.

[Second photo: NYPL; third photo: NYC Department of Records; fourth photo: via Pinterest]

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4 Responses to “A Brooklyn Starbucks’ long movie theater past”

  1. Richard Says:

    Why did they remove the Eagle?

  2. Benjamin Feldman Says:

    For a history of one of New York’s first movie house builders creator of its first nickelodeon, read about Sol Brill here: http://newyorkwanderer.com/1830-2/
    Brill built the Meserole Theater and so many extant others.

  3. Ann Says:

    Sure has changed

  4. Greg Says:

    It got a paint job and a one-story addition, actually. It’s looking pretty ugly these days, but at least they kept the eagle.

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